As a lover of the great game of baseball, I wish I had been old enough to enjoy the play of 22-year Saint Louis Cardinal, the beloved, late Stan Musial. What an extraordinary man in every respect!
Musial was not only one of the giants of baseball athletic prowess, racking up statistics that are the envy of virtually every current or former player, but he was a humble, down-to-earth, decent man who never forgot his humble roots in Donora, Pennsylvania, rendering southwestern Pennsylvania residents proud to share a link to him.
“Stan the Man,” who played baseball with blacks in his native Donora, helped to persuade his teammates to scuttle their threat to strike on the eve of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, no small feat in the largely segregated, overtly racist America of 1947.
He played for the same team for his entire career, something which unthinkable today.
He requested a pay cut from $100,000 to $80,000 per annum after two seasons, 1958 and 1959, in which he did not match his achievements of prior years. Imagine any multi-million-dollar player of today displaying such principle. It is ironic that Cardinal Musial sought to receive less when he faltered while more than fifty years later, Cardinal Albert Pujols sold out his team and the fans to garner a $250 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels rather than the “mere” $200 million or so that he could have received had he stayed in Saint Louis.
Musial is said to have been as thrilled to meet fans as they were to meet him, looking them in the eye and offering a vigorous handshake, along with his trademark phrase, “What do you say, what do you say?” Musial is said to have been anxious to provide autographs to anyone that wanted one for as much time as was necessary.
Stan Musial was a gem from the world of old baseball, a world I fear we are not likely to see again. May this good man rest in peace and may his family be secure in the knowledge that he shall be a beloved figure for all eternity.